What is it about the human brain that allowed otherwise unremarkable primates to become the most powerful species on the planet? Historian Yuval Harari explores this question in his new book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
From politics to economics to religion, Harari argues that all human cooperation can be traced back to a shared belief in fictional stories. When people believe the same fiction, they can obey the same laws and therefore cooperate on a large scale. Thanks to this unique ability, to create and believe in fiction, he says, sapiens now rule the world.
Harari received his Ph.D. from Oxford in 2002 and is currently a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research focuses on what he calls macro-historical questions, like: What is the essential difference between Homo sapiens and other animals? Did people become happier as history unfolded?
Sapiens addresses many of these fascinating questions. The historian spoke to Fusion for the latest installment of our “Genius” series.